Reviews | Right-wing people who admire the Taliban
As the Taliban swept through Afghanistan in August, a right-wing Generation Z group maintained a Twitter account dedicated to celebrating their progress. Pashto tweets juxtaposed two laughing Taliban fighters with images believed to represent American effeminacy. Another said, the words self-translated into English: “Liberalism did not fail in Afghanistan because it was Afghanistan, it failed because it was not true. It failed, America, Europe and the world are seeing it.
The now suspended account was just one example of the open admiration for the Taliban that has grown within parts of the US right. Influential young white supremacist Nick Fuentes – an ally of Republican Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar and anti-immigrant scholar Michelle malkin – wrote on the encrypted Telegram app: “The Taliban is a conservative religious force, the United States is godless and liberal. The defeat of the US government in Afghanistan is unequivocally a positive development. »An account linked to the Proud Boys expressed his respect for how the Taliban “took back their national religion as law and executed dissenters.”
“The far right, the alt-right, are kind of galvanized by the Taliban who are mainly crossing Afghanistan, and we are leaving under a Democratic president,” said Moustafa Ayad, executive director for Africa, Middle -Orient and Asia at the Institute. for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank dedicated to countering violent extremism. They look at Afghanistan, he said, “from the point of view of our ‘possession’, in Internet parlance.
This is not the first time American right-wing extremists have been inspired by Muslim activists; several white supremacists hailed Al Qaeda attacks September 11th. The difference now is that the far right has grown up, and the distance between the kind of right wing that encourages the Taliban and conservative power centers has narrowed.
Florida Republican Matt Gaetz may be a clown, but he’s also a congressman close to the previous president. On Twitter earlier this month, Gaetz describe the Taliban, like Trump, as “more legitimate than the last government in Afghanistan or the current government here.”
Twenty years ago, in the aftermath of September 11, the United States embarked on a war that would ultimately sell off like a battle for democracy. Back then, liberal democracy was almost universally revered in America, which is one of the reasons we were proud to think we could export it by force. Many, especially on the right, worry about the threat that jihadism poses to a modern and open society. The tragic journey of the past two decades began with the loudest voices of the right bawling for the war on Islamism and ended with a right-wing vanguard envying it.
At least before Thursday’s devastating terror attacks, there was a more subtle form of satisfaction with the Taliban takeover among more respectable nationalist conservatives. They do not sympathize with barbarism, but were happy to see liberal internationalism lose. “Afghanistan’s humiliation will have been worth it if it takes the old paradigm aside and lets in new ideas,” Yoram Hazony, a influential nationalist intellectual whose lectures feature personalities like Josh Hawley and Peter Thiel, tweeted earlier this month.
What old paradigm? Well a few days later he tweeted, “What went wrong in Iraq and Afghanistan were first and foremost the ideas in the minds of the people running the show. Say his name: Liberalism.
Fox’s Tucker Carlson, America’s most prominent nationalist voice, seemed to sympathize with the gender politics of Afghans supporting the Taliban. “They don’t hate their own masculinity”, he said shortly after the fall of Kabul. “They don’t think it’s toxic. They love patriarchy. Some of their women like it too. So now they get everything back. So maybe it is possible that we failed in Afghanistan because the whole neoliberal agenda is grotesque. (By “neoliberalism” he seems to mean social liberalism, not the economy of austerity.)
It turns out that when the government deceptively invokes liberal democracy to justify war, liberal democracy can be discredited by grueling defeat. In his new book “Reign of Terror”, national security reporter Spencer Ackerman draws a direct line between our deadlocked wars after 9/11 and the rise of Donald Trump. “Trump was able to safely express the reality of the war by articulating what offended right-wing exceptionalists most: humiliation,” he wrote.
Humiliation is a volatile emotion. Many have written on its role in motivating Al Qaeda. It is perhaps not surprising that parts of the right respond to the humiliation by identifying with images of brutal masculinity.
Part of this identification might be just for shock value; the alt-right is adept at using irony to obscure its intentions. But some of them are deadly serious.
“We have come across a lot of content from far-right US-based websites that say how good the Taliban victory is and why it is good for their cause,” said Adam Hadley, director of Tech Against Terrorism, an organization supported by the UN. project that monitors extremists online. A neo-Nazi website, to which I will not link, has a leaflet hailing the Taliban victory in part for showing that a small group of armed fundamentalists can defeat the American Empire.
As for the rest of the pro-Taliban right, the Proud Boys and the incels and MAGA dissident factions, some of them are probably just trolling. But as civil war-hungry groups like QAnon and Boogaloo Bois show, a movement can seem absurd and still be a source of true radicalization. “The classic answer to all of this is, ‘Ah, they’re just a fringe group’ and then when that metastasizes a lot of people eat their words,” Ayad said.
If there is one lesson from recent American history, it is that there is nothing too ridiculous to be dangerous.